Electric companies in Texas are hoping that the recent bankruptcy of EFH, the parent company for TXU Energy, will cause customers to shop for other alternatives for their electricity. The restructuring of the parent company as part of the bankruptcy process should have no impact on the ongoing business of its component companies which include the retail electric provider TXU as well as the unit of the company that owns and operates power plans.
Still, TXU’s competitors in Texas are offering aggressive promotions in hope of winning over nervous customers. For example, Bounce Energy, Direct Energy, and First Choice Power are all currently offering $150 prepaid Visa cards to new customers who opt for their 12 month electricity plans.
Most of Texas is a deregulated electricity market. This means consumers are free to choose their providers. Austin, however, is not a deregulated electricity market.
The city of Austin has run into a bit of a problem with their solar energy rebate program. Austin Energy was required, through a tariff, to zero out all of the energy credits that were given last year. This means that about 300 customers without their credits for producing more solar energy than they used.
Now that the customers are upset about the loss of their credits, Austin Energy is hoping to win back the trust of customers by offering them rolling credits that they can build up throughout the year. While these credits do not give back the credits that the customers lost, Austin Energy is hoping that rolling credits will make customers happy enough to stick with the program.
The production of solar energy will continue while the company will give solar owners credit that can roll on and on for months and even years. This change in the program may make some upset, but at least Austin Energy is working with solar users as fairly as possible.
Solar energy could be at a turning point in Texas, where adoption of solar power has been slow compared to wind energy. In deregulated parts of the state like Dallas and Houston, providers such as Green Mountain energy are beginning to offer solar only electricity plans that allow consumers to use pure solar energy without putting panels on their rooftops.
Texas power producers are working on a public proposal that would allow for an extra fee in Texas consumers’ energy bills to pay for extra power plants. In essence, this fee is to pay the companies based on how much electricity they could, in theory, produce rather than for just the actual electricity they sell to the grid.
While consumers will see this fee as something that is being paid because the power companies are not working at full speed, the power companies believe that they must have the fee in their coffers so that they can build power plants to meet the extra energy needs in the summer.
Power companies contend that the only way they can meet higher demands is to have this new fee and build more plants. Consumers and consumer watch groups believe that the citizens of Texas are adapting quite well to the power shortages in the state. More people are monitoring their energy use and conserving power as much as possible.
Perhaps it’s time for the power companies to look elsewhere for extra ready cash.